In the first instalment of our new series, we examine the key takeaways and turning points from the most recent Thai League Matchday.
Port are an attacking force again
Sarawut Treephan is back in the dugout for Port FC, and the side are looking like themselves once again – as was clearly seen in their 3-1 victory over BG Pathum United. Attacking and enterprising in the first half, the hosts dominated possession and hit the front, admittedly due to an own goal by BG defender Victor Cardozo.
After Port’s struggles in the latter half of last season and in the AFC Champions League, the consensus suggested the side were too open and needed a coach who emphasized defence and discipline. However, despite appointing Dusit Chalermsan, whose entire reputation is built on those traits, the side weren’t able to adapt and subsequently struggled. It is unsurprising that Port have returned to form after going back to their familiar attacking approach.
Sarawut’s reappointment may not solve the side’s long-run issues, and some fans may be unhappy that the club have backtracked on working towards a more defensively solid and durable setup. In the short run, however, it’s hard to deny that the move has been effective – especially since the win came against Dusit himself, and a BG Pathum side which already looks more cautious and conservative then the one he inherited from Aurelio Vidmar just over a week ago.
Supachai playing his way into Thailand’s AFF Cup squad?
Supachai Jaided had another excellent performance this weekend, netting two goals against Khon Kaen United to take his tally for the season to 7 from 14 appearances. He scored his first by weaving his way past two defenders and finding the net from well outside the box. For his second, he showed his quality inside the area, slipping between the defenders and dinking the ball over the goalkeeper.
Head coach Alexandre Gama deserves credit for trusting the Thai striker with the key role in his side’s attack. Supachai has previously been pushed out into supporting roles, either as a backup or second striker, accommodating the desire of the club’s expensive imports to lead the line. However, this time around, the 22-year-old has featured in all 14 of the Thunder Castle’s league matches so far, usually in a front two with Samuel Rosa, and has rewarded the coaches faith in him by ending Matchday 14 as the club’s top scorer.
Thailand have always struggled in the striker department, with their fortunes typically dependent on the fitness and form of veteran Teerasil Dangda. While the BG Pathum United forward is similarly on his best form in years, there is little doubt that national team coach Mano Polking will be closely tracking Supachai’s development. The War Elephants could well go into December’s AFF Cup with two in-form strikers, which would be a huge boost for the national side’s chances.
Huge three points for ten-man Bangkok United
Despite having a player sent off just 12 minutes into their game against Muangthong, Bangkok United managed not only to hold on, but to comfortably defeat their opponents by 3 goals to 1. This result means the side finished the first leg with an unbeaten home record, and will most likely be league leaders heading into the break.
Even more commendable than the result was the side’s performance and the way they were able to see out the game. In the past, Bangkok United were known to struggle with the pressure of being league leaders, especially in big home matches. However, there was absolutely no sign of that at all on Sunday evening, as they got the job done efficiently and professionally.
A casual viewing may suggest that the game was ultimately decided by a set piece and two moments of magic from Heberty. However, coach Totchtawan Sripan’s game management, as well as the side’s mental fortitude and tactical discipline, were seriously impressive and deserving of their place as league leaders.
Alarm bells ringing in Samut Prakan?
After a promising start to the Thai League, Samut Prakan City approach the end of the first leg with just one win in their last eleven league matches. The side have admittedly suffered with serious injury problems over the course of that run, and their lack of investment means they have very little squad depth to call upon.
The Sea Fang had close to a full complement back fit for their match against Suphanburi, just missing Jaroensak Wonggorn and Yuto Ono, who are suffering with longer term injuries. However, that still wasn’t enough to stop them from slumping to a 2-1 defeat against a side who had lost their last seven consecutive matches.
Their head coach Mastada Ishii is one of the most coveted managers in the country, with his name being mentioned in relation to virtually every big Thai club and the national team. While he has chosen to remain loyal to the Sea Fang, where he has been given free rein to mould the squad in his image, one would suspect that the club needs to invest, at least a little, to keep their greatest asset at the club.